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What the Facebook Giraffe Riddle Taught Me About Social Media

October 31, 2013

Last night, I joined the growing number of Facebook users who have changed their profile photo to a giraffe. No, I didn’t join a movement to save the giraffe. The truth is that I incorrectly answered a silly riddle in response to a friend’s post. It looked like this:

Screenshot showing giraffe riddle on Facebook

[Un-spoiler alert: It's safe to keep reading, I'm not giving away the answer here! If you're dying to know, visit our Facebook page.]

Despite my long history as an active Facebook user, this was literally the first time I ever participated in a chainriddle.

So, why did I respond to this one?

The person who posted the question isn’t someone who I interact with frequently on Facebook – one of those outer circle friends who remains on my friend list because they don’t post anything offensive. It’s not someone who I feel obliged to interact with (let’s admit it, we don’t always like everything that we “like,” do we?). Yet, I confidently, even eagerly, responded to his question.

I was a bit surprised that I got the answer wrong, but I dutifully changed my photo to a giraffe. And then I reposted the riddle. If I’m a giraffe, then everyone should be a giraffe!

This morning, my inbox was jammed with replies from friends who had responded to my question. It was an even mix of close friends, family members, and those outer circlers – with a 50/50 mix of right and wrong responses.

To be honest, I was surprised to see how many people responded to the chainriddle and it got me thinking.

Why does the Facebook giraffe riddle provoke a response and how can you make it work for your brand?

Because I work in online marketing, I found myself wondering if we could apply some of the learnings from the giraffe riddle to our client’s social media campaigns. To answer this, I contemplated the rationale for participation in the giraffe riddle.

Let’s explore some of my theories:

  1. We are curious. I believe curiosity was a major force behind participation in the giraffe riddle. While I thought I had the answer right, it seemed too easy, so I was curious what the catch was. Most of my friends told me the same thing.
  2. It’s fun. I wasn’t motivated by the reward and I doubt my friends were either (did anyone care about the virtual pat on the back they got for answering correctly?). I was motivated by the activity itself. This concept is free, fun, silly, and it makes you smile.
  3. Low risk. I didn’t care if I was right or wrong because there weren’t any real consequences. If there was money on this question, I probably wouldn’t have answered. I didn’t have to buy anything, sign up for a newsletter, or like a company’s business page to participate.
  4. No long term commitment. According to the rules, the picture only has to stay up for 3 days. It’s true that no one is forcing you to put up the picture, but I believe in honour, even on the internet!!

And here’s something else that I’m willing to admit, even if no one else is ready to: when I posted that giraffe photo, it made me feel good. It made me feel like I was part of a group of curious people who aren’t ashamed to say, ‘we got it wrong!’ It’s almost like I was joining a club. The inner circle of giraffes.a circle of people holding hands

This riddle has reinforced a few social bonds and given me a chance to catch up with some friends who I had been out of touch with. This is a feel good story and there is nothing wrong with that.

If social media can reinforce bonds and relationships, shouldn’t you be using social media to strengthen relationships with your customers?

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Filed under Digital Marketing

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Add a comment1 Comment

Reply Belinda Summers (Author) | October 31st, 2013 at 6:56pm
I believe that this giraffe riddle has it's cause and like disseminating the updates about your service, everyone else to know your market and will eventually become interested in your business. This is how we should market ourselves, we shouldn't make some obvious trick. ;)

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